Ruth B. Bottigheimer

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Ruth B. Bottigheimer is a literary scholar, folklorist, and author. She is currently Research Professor in the department of Cultural Analysis and Theory at Stony Brook University, State University of New York[1] where she specializes in European fairy tales and British children’s literature.[1] She is also interested in the history of illustration and the religious socialization of children through edited Bible narratives.[1] She “has been hailed as one of America’s foremost Grimm scholars”.[2]


Bottigheimer earned her D.A. in German Literature and Language in 1981 through Stony Brook University, State University of New York.[1] She earned a B.A. (Honors) in German Literature and Medieval History and an M.A. in German Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.[3] She also attended Wellesley College, the University of Munich, and the University College London.[3]


In addition to her current position at Stony Brook University, Bottigheimer has also taught at Hollins University, the University of Innsbruck, the University of Vienna, Göttingen University, Princeton University, the University of California, and others.[3] She is a member of numerous professional organizations including the International Society for Folk Narrative Research, Bruder Grimm Gesellschaft, the Children’s Literature Association, and the Modern Language Association.[3]

Bottigheimer is currently researching “the history of early British children’s literature and the seventeenth-century Port-Royalist Nicolas Fontaine. The Stony Brook University website states that “[Bottigheimer’s] work crosses disciplinary boundaries, contextualizing genres in their socio-historical cultures of origin, assessing them in terms of publishing history parameters, and utilizing linguistics in discourse analysis”.[1]

Bottigheimer’s languages of research include English, German, French, and occasionally Italian and Spanish.[1]



  • "Magic Tales and Fairy Tale Magic from Ancient Egypt to the Italian Renaissance". (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
  • "Fairy Tales Framed. Early Forewords, Afterwords, and Critical Words" Ed. (State University of New York, 2012)
  • Fairy Tales: A New History (Excelsior Editions: State University of New York, 2009)
  • Gender and Story in South India, Ed. with Lalita Handoo and Leela Prasad (State University of New York Press, 2007)
  • Fairy Godfather: Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002)
  • Folklore and Gender, Ed. with Lalita Handoo (Zooni Publications, 1999)
  • The Bible for Children: From the Age of Gutenberg to the Present (Yale University Press, 1996)
  • Grimm’s Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales (Yale University Press, 1987)
  • Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion and Paradigm, Ed. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987)


Bottigheimer has written numerous articles including:

  • “The Case of ‘The Ebony Horse. Part II Hanna Diyab’s Creation of a Third Tradition.’” Gramarye 6 (2014): 6-16.
  • “The Case of ‘The Ebony Horse. Part I’” With Claudia Ott. Gramarye 5 (2014): 8-20.
  • “East Meets West in Thousand and One Nights.” Marvels and Tales 28.2 (2014): 302-324.
  • “A Career That Wasn’t.” In Tema y variaciones de Literatura número 41 (Literatura infantil y juvenil: reflexiones, análisis y testimonios) [Theme and Variations of Literature Number 41 (Children's Literature: Reflections, Analysis and Testimonies)]. ed. Alejandra Sánchez Valencia.2013: 251-268.
  • “Skeptics and Enthusiasts: Nineteenth-Century Prefaces to the Grimms’ Tales in English Translation.” In Grimms' Tales around the Globe: The Dynamics of Their International Reception , eds. Vanessa Joosen and Gillian Lathey. Detroit: Wayne State University, 2014. 199-218.
  • “Children’s Bibles: An Overview and a History of their Scholarship,” in Retelling the Bible: Literary Historical, and Social Contexts, eds. Lucie Dolžalová and Tamás Visi. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2011. 359-365.
  • “Fairy Tale Illustrations and Real World Gender: Function, Conceptualization, and Publication.” RELIEF 2010 (electronic publication).
  • “Upward and Outward: Fairy Tales and Popular, Print, and Proletarian Culture, 1550-1850.” Elore (ISSN 1456-3010) 17.2 (2010): 104-120. Joensu (Finland): The Finnish Folklore Society [1].
  • “Les contes médievaux et les contes de fées moderns” in Féeries 7 (2010): 21-43.
  • “Fairy Godfather, Fairy-Tale History, and Fairy-Tale Scholarship: A Response to Dan Ben-Amos, Jan Ziolkowski, and Francisco Vaz da Silva” in Fairy-Tale Traditions between Orality and Literacy, ed. Dan Ben-Amos [= Journal of American Folklore 123.490 (Fall 2010):] 447-496.
  • “A New History for Fairy Tales.” 53-70 in The Conte: Oral and Written Dynamics, eds. Maeve M. McCusker and Janice Carruthers. London: Lang, 2010.
  • “Murdering mothers in Bible stories and fairy tales.” In Representations of Women Victims and Perpetrators in German Culture 1500-2000. Rochester NY: Camden House, 2008. 28-42.
  • "Children's Bibles: Sacralized and Problematic," 97-110 in Expectations and Experiences: Children,Childhood, and Children’s Literature, eds. Valerie Coughlan and Clare Bradford. Lichfield: Pied Piper Press, 2007.
  • “Semiliterate and Semi-Oral Processes” with Rudolf Schenda in Marvels and Tales 21 (1) (2007)
  • “France’s First Fairy Tales: The Restoration and Rise Narratives of Les facetieuses nuictz du Seigneur Francois Straparole” in Marvels and Tales 19 (1) (2005)
  • “Misperceived Perceptions: Perrault’s Fairy Tales and English Children’s Literature” in Children’s Literature 30 (2002)
  • "Les Bibles pour enfants et leurs lecteurs aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles en France et en Allemagne" in La Bible Imprimée dans l'Europe moderne (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1999)
  • "Männlich - Weiblich: Sexualität und Geschlechterrollen” in Männlch - Weiblich: Zur Bedeutung der Kategorie Geschlecht in der Kultur (Waxmann Verlag, 1999)
  • "Illustration and Imagination" in Fellowship Program Researchers' Report, International Institute for Children's Literature Osaka 1999: 71–106 (English), 42–70 (Japanese).
  • "Cultural History and the Meanings of Children's Literature" in Signal 87 (September 1998)
  • "'An Important System of its Own': Defining Children's Literature" in Princeton University Library Chronicle 69.2 (1998)
  • "Children's Bibles 1690–1750 and the Emergence of Fictions for Children" in Compar(a)ison 2 (1995)
  • "Children's Bibles as a Form of Folk Narrative" (182-190) in Folk Narrative and Cultural Identity. 9th Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research. Budapest 1989 Ed. Vilmos Voigt (Budapest 1995)
  • "The Child-Reader of Children's Bibles 1656–1753" (44-56) in Infant Tongues: The Voice of the Child in Literature Ed. Elizabeth Goodenough, Mark Heberle, and Naomi Sokoloff (Wayne State University Press, 1994)
  • "The Bible for Children: The Emergence and Development of the Genre 1550–1990" (347-62) in The Church and Childhood: Studies in Church History 31 Ed. Diana Woods and Janet Nelson (Blackwell, 1994)
  • "Fairy Tales and Children's Literature: A Feminist Perspective" (101-108) in Options for the Teaching of Children's Literature (Modern Language Association, 1992)
  • "Ludwig Bechstein's Fairy Tales: Nineteenth Century Bestsellers and Bürgerlichkeit" in Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur 15.2 (1990)
  • "One Hundred and Fifty Years of German at Princeton: A Descriptive Account" in Teaching German in America: Prolegomena to a History Ed. David Benseler, Walter F. W. Lohnes, & Valters Nollendorfs (University of Wisconsin Press, 1988)
  • "Studies in Silence: Speech Patterns in Grimm's Fairy Tales" in Fairy Tales and Society (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986)
  • "Iconographic Continuity: A Study of the Illustration History of 'The Goosegirl' (KHM 89)" in Children's Literature 13 (1985)
  • "The Transformed Queen: A Search for the Origins of Negative Female Archetypes in the Grimms' Fairy Tales" in Amsterdamer Beiträge 10 (1980)

In addition to the above works, Bottigheimer has also written numerous reviews, encyclopedia articles, and published several translations.[3]


Bottigheimer’s recent conclusions about the literary history of fairy tales, published in her book Fairy Tales: A New History, have created a great deal of controversy among folklore scholars.[7] At both the 2005 congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research in Estonia and the 2006 meeting of the American Folklore Society in Milwaukee, Bottigheimer’s claims – particularly the claim that the fairy tale “template” was originally conceived of by a 16th-century Italian writer named Straparola[7] – were repeatedly and “uproar[iously]”[7] questioned by “unpersuaded” folklorists.[7] Folklorists Dan Ben-Amos,[8] Francisco Vaz da Silva,[9] and Jan M. Ziolkowski[10] each produced papers responding to Bottigheimer’s claims that appeared in the Journal of American Folklore. A response from Bottigheimer was published in the same issue.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Stony Brook University Website, Ruth B. Bottigheimer's Information Page.
  2. ^ Bendix, Regina. 1989. Book Review: Grimms' Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales by Ruth B. Bottigheimer. The Journal of American Folklore 102 (403): 95–97.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Ruth B. Bottigheimer CV, Ruth B. Bottigheimer's Curriculum Vitae.
  4. ^
  5. ^ JSTOR
  6. ^ Project MUSE
  7. ^ a b c d Howard, Jennifer (22 May 2009). "From 'Once Upon a Time' to 'Happily Ever After'". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  8. ^ Ben-Amos, Dan (Fall 2010). "Straparola: The Revolution That Was Not". Journal of American Folklore. 123 (490): 426–446. doi:10.5406/jamerfolk.123.490.0426. JSTOR 10.5406/jamerfolk.123.490.0426.
  9. ^ Vaz da Silva, Francisco (Fall 2010). "The Invention of Fairy Tales". Journal of American Folklore. 123 (490): 398–425. doi:10.5406/jamerfolk.123.490.0398. JSTOR 10.5406/jamerfolk.123.490.0398.
  10. ^ Ziolkowski, Jan M. (Fall 2010). "Straparola and the Fairy Tale: Between Literary and Oral Traditions". Journal of American Folklore. 123 (490): 377–397. doi:10.5406/jamerfolk.123.490.0377. JSTOR 10.5406/jamerfolk.123.490.0377.
  11. ^ Bottigheimer, Ruth B. (Fall 2010). "Fairy Godfather, Fairy-Tale History, and Fairy-Tale Scholarship: A Response to Dan Ben-Amos, Jan M. Ziolkowski, and Francisco Vaz da Silva". Journal of American Folklore. 123 (490): 447–496. doi:10.5406/jamerfolk.123.490.0447. JSTOR 10.5406/jamerfolk.123.490.0447.

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